New project seeks to empower women, juvenile inmates

Busingye (2nd left) inspects tailoring activities done by female inmates in Musanze Prison as other officials look on. Régis Umurengezi.

Women and juvenile inmates from Musanze and Nyagatare Juvenile Prisons now have reason to smile after the launch of a three-year project that seeks to empower them economically in the pre-and post-release process.

The project was on Tuesday officially unveiled at Musanze Prison by the Rwanda Correctional Services (RCS) jointly with the Catholic Diocese of Byumba with funding from OXFAM International.

Through the scheme dubbed, ‘Rwanda Market oriented programme’, the project will be dealing with the targeted inmates’ psycho-social support as well as providing them with hands-on skills while in prison, according to the officials.

It targets 2,500 inmates.

Two vocational training centres for tailoring and dressing were unveiled at Musanze Prison to facilitate the female inmates acquire hands-on skills while juvenile inmates from Nyagatare Prison will be taught welding, haircutting, carpentry and construction.

Bishop of Byumba Diocese Servilien Nzakamwita disclosed that the project focuses on women and juveniles because they face hardship in reintegrating into their families after serving their sentences.

“All that we need is that people live in harmony by helping each other in their day-to-day lifestyle as the gospel asks us, we want this project to help people respect the virtues which promote social cohesion not only in the prisons but also within our families,” said Bishop Nzakamwita

Inmates upbeat

Inmates welcomed the project, saying it would help them to live a dignity life while reintegrating in their respective families.

“Most of the time many people return to prison as a result of committing crimes connected to lacking employment after being released,” said Domitille Mukankuranga, an inmate in Musanze Prison.

Oxfam International country director Alice Anukur said they preferred sponsoring the project as it contributes to inclusive development of Rwanda which is crucial to National Strategy for Transformation (NST) as well as to Vision 2020.

“Oxfam supported this pilot phase for six months and is working with partners to raise additional funds to scale up the project in Musanze and Nyagatare prisons as well as surrounding communities,” she said.

The Minister for Justice and Attorney General, Johnston Busingye, reiterated the Government’s commitment to have the country free of crime and urged inmates to showcase good behaviour so as to contribute toward the country’s development.

“The project isn’t there to only provide you with vocational skills; it is also there to transform your livelihoods,” he told the inmates.

Busingye said that the Government values the idea to empower female and juvenile inmates and called on concerned partners to join hands for the project to thrive.

“As long as the idea is still alive we will never lack money to run the project,” he promised, adding “Let’s work together to make sure the idea never dies, as long as the idea does not die we will never lack the resources and people to put it in action,”

Beneficiaries will be given startup toolkits upon completing their term of imprisonment. Byumba Diocese officials said they are working to unveil the same project in the remaining prison in near future.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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